It was with a sense of nostalgia and anticipation that I went to check out The Tea Party this past Friday at MTelus, formerly Metropolis, for their Black River Tour. It was nostalgic because I saw them live numerous times when I was younger and one of the first times was at Metropolis in the mid 90s when they, and many other popular Canadian rock bands, were emerging.
Joining The Tea Party on the tour was The Proud Sons. The five-piece country band from Winnipeg, Manitoba formed in 2012 and consists of Ryan McConnell on lead vocals and guitar, Kyle Meyer on lead guitar and vocals, Jesse Meyer on bass and vocals, Jay Mymryk on drums, and Jason Stanley on guitar, piano, harmonica and vocals. According to their site, they’re all really close friends, and have been for some time. They were on tour to promote their four-song EP called The Band.
As is typical for the venue, the show started on time, precisely at 8:00PM in fact. The place was already packed at this point and if it wasn’t sold out it must have been close. The Proud Sons played a six-track set including their original songs, and a Beatles cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” which had their own country spin to it. They were sharp instrument wise and their four-part harmony was pretty impressive. The audience seemed to really enjoy the set and in turn the band really enjoyed playing for the audience as frontman Ryan McConnell mentioned it was their first time in Montreal.
After a brief change over, local musician and radio personality Jason Rockman of Slaves on Dope came out to introduce The Tea Party. The stage set up was modest with Jeff Martin (lead vocals, guitar) and Stuart Chatwood (bass, keyboards) on either side of an elevated drumkit being manned by Jeff Burrows with an 18’ backdrop banner featuring the tour’s logo. They opened with “Writings on the Wall” after which frontman Jeff mentioned something many audience members agree with: MTelus will always affectionately be called Metropolis. The Tea Party have a special connection with the venue, having played there so many times, so much so that when they said it’s their favourite stop on the tour, I’m inclined to believe them. They continued with another one of their classics, “The Bazaar” followed by a new track called “Way Way Down.” It was new and different but on par with the band’s sound and hopefully signals the possibility of a forth coming album which be their eighth release. They played a number of their other classics including “Psychopomp,” “Fire in the Head,” “The Halcyon Days,” and “Save Me” which bled into a bit of a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” They did this for the encores as well with “The River” featuring a snippet of “Sober” by Tool and “Winter Solstice” featuring a snippet of “Bobcaygeon” by The Tragically Hip. And the last track of the evening, “Sister Awake” with pieces from “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones and “Heroes” by David Bowie.
It was quite a good show with a very interactive audience. One thing I noticed about the band is that they don’t necessarily try to make their tracks sound how they do on the albums but take a creative license and play with the sound having fun doing something new with something classic.
Written by Joey Beaudin
*edited by Danielle Kenedy